First Brick Building In Town

Originally written by Dave Battey for the Valley Reporter Newspaper in 1992, updated in 2021.

Washington State Bank. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection PO.115.0007.
Inside State Bank of Snoqualmie at Reinig Store, February, 1923. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection PO.115.0006.
Inside Washington State Bank, Snoqualmie. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection PO.115.0008.

The building that Buckshot Honey now occupies is unique in that it was the first and one of the few brick buildings built in Snoqualmie. Built in 1923, it has served as a bank, city hall, chamber of commerce and more recently restaurants.

The opening of the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company mill in November of 1917 created a stronger economy in the area and led to the founding of the State Bank of Snoqualmie on April 10, 1919. Home for this bank was in the back of Otto Reinig’s store in Snoqualmie (now Carmichael’s Hardware). The bank was established by W. L. Peters and Associates, with a capitalization of $15,000. Incidentally, Peters was also president of the First National Bank of Lyons, Iowa.

By 1920, the mill payroll kept the bank open late in the evening on paydays, and ready cash of “$30,000 to $35,000” was required per payday.  Bank officials in 1920 are listed as J. H. Peters, president, with W. L. Peters as cashier, S. R. Archibald as vice president and the Nye brothers as directors. In a letter dated December 6, 1920, mill manager W. W. Warren suggests that the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company make use of the local bank for some of their banking needs and quotes Seattle First National Bank president, “Mr. Arnold” as regarding the local Snoqualmie bankers as “substantial.”

By July of 1923, several eastside banks had been coupled together and it was decided to construct a new headquarters for the chain in Snoqualmie. The building would be built on the corner of River Street and Falls Avenue, just across from Otto Reinig’s store, on a lot just north of the Case and Hepler Ford Garage. The 60’ x 120’ lot was purchased from Herbert Knowles.

The bank was built along pleasing classical lines and engineered to be the most solid and substantial building in town.  Built of brick, its walls were a foot thick and the building exterior was twenty-six feet wide and forty feet long. An upstairs balcony, fourteen feet wide, overlooked the main room, which was twenty-four feet square and had a eighteen foot ceiling.  Eight inch wide clear fir cove molding dressed the corners between the walls and ceiling.  Multi-paned wood windows ten feet high graced three walls, bringing cascades of sunlight into the main hall.

An essential part of the new bank building was an 8’ X 12’ vault with walls of 18” reinforced concrete. To quote from the October 19, Snoqualmie Post, “From the dimensions of the steel bars and plates that entered into its construction it would seem that it is impregnable as the Rock of Gibraltar.” The door to the vault was shipped from San Francisco and weighed over 6,000 pounds.  It was originally engineered to swing to the right — which blocked access.  It took workmen an entire week to change the hinges on the vault door.

To make matters more challenging, the lead contractor on the bank, Marcus B. Arvesen, died in mid-October.  No announcement for the opening ceremony has been found, but earlier news stories predicted December, 1923.

Also in 1923, Valley resident C. Beadon Hall, owner (along with his sister Isadore) of the Tolt State Bank, and the Duvall State Bank, purchased the State Bank of North Bend. C. Beadon Hall and his sister Isadore founded the Duvall State Bank in 1912 and carefully added seven more banks to their chain until they covered the Eastside all the way to Bellevue.

In 1929, C. B. (as he was called around the Upper and Lower Snoqualmie Valley) purchased the State Bank of Snoqualmie whose officers at the time included J. H. Peters, president, A. J. Peters, vice president, and W. L. Peters, cashier.

Weathering the Great Depression (no small feat for small banks), the Hall’s moved to Snoqualmie and in 1943, reorganized their individual bank branches into The Washington State Bank, headquartered in the brick building in Snoqualmie.

By the 1940’s a wooden structure (later the mayors’ office) had been added to the back of the bank and is listed in assessor’s records as a “boiler room” equipped with a Risdon Automatic Coal Stoker. Some folks today refer to this addition as the “jail”.

In 1943, C. B. began the Issaquah State Bank. This was followed by Washington State Bank’s Bellevue branch in 1944, their Mercer Island Branch in 1950, and an Eastgate branch in 1955.

C. Beadon Hall, our local banker, had carefully built his small town operation into a virtual monopoly of banking on the east side of Lake Washington. When they consolidated as Washington State Bank in 1943, their business was headquartered in the brick building in Snoqualmie. A final branch was added at Eastgate in 1955 and the chain was purchased by Seattle First National Bank in 1956.

Snoqualmie State Bank merchant bank calculator. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection 951.1232.
State Bank of Snoqualmie bag. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection 574.109.
Washington State Bank Board during 1956 sale to SeaFirst. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection.
CB Hall signing sale to SeaFirst. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection.

In the early 70’s, Seafirst decided to build a new branch building in town. This modern building was completed in 1976 and negotiations between the City of Snoqualmie and Seafirst for the old brick building began long before the new structure was completed. Bob Innis, Ed Opstad, Joe Lyon, Chuck Peterson and other community minded citizens worked with Seafirst to close the deal.

City Hall before sign updated. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection.
City Hall before sign updated. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection.
Charles Peterson at purchase and dedication of City Hall, 1976. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Charles Peterson Collection.
Installation of Burhans paintings at City Hall. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Charles Peterson Collection.
Burhans paintings at City Hall. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Charles Peterson Collection.
City Hall. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Charles Peterson Collection.

When the new Snoqualmie Seafirst was dedicated on July 24, 1976, the donation of the old building to the city became part of the opening ceremony. Mayor Chuck Peterson remembered the Seafirst officer involved in the festivities noting that he couldn’t legally give the building to the city for nothing. Some token amount of money had to change hands and be noted in the contract.  Chuck pulled out his wallet and handed the bank official a dollar bill and the deal was consummated.

But the city had not been financially able to budget for the renovation of a bank into a city hall. Money was scarce.  A task force co-chaired by George and Jean Swenson and Mona and Joe Lyon helped raise funds. Kathy, Bret and Dave Battey had just moved to the Valley, and one of our first involvements in the community was scooping for an ice cream social to raise money for the renovation.

A budget of some $2500 was scraped together.

Volunteers came to the rescue as they have so many times in Snoqualmie’s past. Volunteer firemen, city police, council members, concerned citizens and locals with expertise came forward. Kyle and Ada Riley and Dick and Betty Carmichael helped obtain materials at cost. Local Architect Dick Burhans and his wife Sallie helped design the new council chambers, lighting, tables and desks.  Dick also created five beautiful historic timber industry paintings which were mounted behind the council tables.

Burhans did not have a logging background and was concerned about the accuracy of his details of timber operations. He called together eight or ten “old timers” including Mittie Terhune and Marv Slaght to help him design the rigging and other woodsy details. Howard Crowder put his cabinetry expertise into the council tables.  Carol Peterson and Betty Carmichael painted and papered the walls. Seafirst had recycled the 6,000 pound vault door, leaving a jagged concrete edge for a doorway. Edd McCullough remembers Bart Mueller carefully fitting a form and pouring a new concrete door frame.

And so, by late 1976, it became Snoqualmie City Hall for the next fourteen years, until hit hard by the Thanksgiving 1990 floods.

City of Snoqualmie staff were fortunate enough to find a temporary home in the old telephone building in North bend and room for council meetings in the SRA/Snoqualmie Falls Chamber building. Mayor Hansen continued with her Saturday morning “Open House” policy — but it just wasn’t the same for citizens to travel to North Bend to meet with her.

Bids for a complete renovation, flood proofing and much needed addition to old city hall came in over-budget. It looked like Snoqualmie would stay in North Bend for the foreseeable future.

Then, once again, volunteers came forward. A citizens committee was appointed by the mayor to look at options.  They recommended re-use of the old building for council chambers, meeting rooms, and the mayor’s office. They also suggested purchase of the old Sno-Falls Credit Union for city staff, which at the time was housed in downtown Snoqualmie in the building to the east of the Bindlestick.

The results are bearing fruit.  The old credit union building is being refurbished and could be available by early December.  A volunteer group took on the challenge of renovating the old city hall.  Much plaster was loose all the way to the bricks and had to be replaced.  The older wiring was almost useless.  Some internal trim was rotten and holes from abandoned electrical and heating facilities pocked the walls.

Once again, Dick and Sallie Burhans volunteered their architectural and design expertise to the renovation.  Dick also drew up plans for new council tables and a new backdrop for the five logging history paintings which he created for the 1976 city hall renovation.

The major challenge for Snoqualmie volunteers was to carefully preserve the historical and architectural integrity of the building and make it useful once again — under a tight budget.  Important aspects, such as flood proofing and enlarging the facility had to wait for the future. The committee decided to accent the Council Chamber’s fourteen foot ceiling with a metal stamped pattern.  The ceiling was installed by lead artisan/volunteer Matt Stone, our local Michelangelo.

The Snoqualmie Valley Historical Society provided a photograph showing the original building with old fashioned school house lights and similar antique fixtures were donated by the electrical contractor.  New carpeting was put down and new baseboards created for the main room.  Betty Carmichael spent over twenty-four hours painting woodwork in the council chamber. The mayor’s office was re-paneled, and modern lighting installed.

A grand total of over 550 hours of volunteer labor and hundreds of dollars in donated materials were offered by caring citizens. Week after week, Mayor Hansen provided pizza for the Saturday work parties.

Just as things were taking shape, they almost lost it all. Workmen sealing the asphalt on the parking lot caught the wall of Mayor Jeanne Hansen’s office on fire. Kyle Riley sprinted to the fire station to turn in the alarm, and our efficient Snoqualmie Volunteer Fire Department kept the damage to $200.

Much remained to be done.  The Dick Burhans paintings had been cleaned by the artist and re-installed in a new backdrop.  New council tables were added in front of the paintings. The upstairs was not budgeted for, and would need some loving care.

Cathy Runkle was deeply involved in the project and chaired an antique sale to raise funds. Funding was a challenge, and ongoing fundraisers took place even as the Mayor moved back to her office.  Tickets for a raffle to raise funds were available at many local businesses. After an absence of two years, Mayor Hansen moved back to her renovated office on Saturday, October 24, 1992.

The first official meeting in the newly renovated (but not yet completed) council chambers was on November 2, with a Mountain’s to Sound Greenway open house followed by a Snoqualmie Planning Commission meeting.  Senior Planning Commissioner Gordy Mayrand spoke for all Snoqualmie when he stated, “It feels good to be home.”

Reopening of City Hall after Earthquake. Snoqualmie Valley Museum Collection.
City Hall after the earthquake, 2005. Valley Record Newspaper.
Building serving as Chamber of Commerce. Chamber of Commerce ad photo.
Interior of building while serving as Heirloom Cookshop. Heirloom Cookshop ad photo.

In 2001, the building was badly damaged in the Nisqually Earthquake. The damage was bad enough that initial assessments were that it would have to be demolished. Jim Tinner, building official and code enforcement officer for the city, said “It tried to rotate, and in trying to rotate, there are no systems to stop that,” The quake caused the historic building to twist, creating several cracks in its north, west and south walls. Inside the building, it was possible to see daylight through one crack. “The [wooden portion of the building] tried to support the bricks, but it failed,” Tinner said. Cracks run from top to bottom where a pilaster on the north wall is attached to the building. The pilaster at one time served as a chimney, and it helps support the building’s second story. The strain from the weight the pilaster is still supporting caused it to bow outward slightly. Inside the mayor’s office was strewn with fallen books, and framed certificates hung lopsided on walls. The front door could not be opened. The city undertook to save the building and rather than demolishing it repaired and retrofitted it.

After the dedication of the new City Hall in 2010; the building was used as the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce headquarters and operated as a tourist information center until 2017 when the city sold the property. In 2017 it was remodeled to accommodate food service. Since then it has been occupied by Heirloom Cookshop and now Buckshot Honey.